As you grow in CrossFit, you may want to grow your shoe selection as well and choose the best shoe for the job for particular movements and workouts.
Most people have some sort of running or athletic shoe when they start CrossFit. The next shoe I would recommend getting is a general CrossFit shoe – the Inov8’s, Nano’s, MetCon’s, or No Bull’s. Then, if you are going to get into the Olympic Lifts more or have been CrossFitting for awhile and want to take things up a notch, I would recommend looking into Olympic Lifters.
As discussed in Part 1: Nanos, MetCons, Inov8s, and No Bulls – oh my! There are several brands of CrossFit specific shoes on the market. If you have a pair of CrossFit shoes – whether they be Inov8s, Nano’s, MetCon’s, or No Bulls – it is a pretty safe bet that you can wear them for the entire hour class at the gym any day of the week.
They are specifically designed to be an all around shoe that is good at all things, not specialized for any – just like CrossFitters.
If there are workouts with a good amount of running, I do prefer to wear my running shoes. The raised, cushioned heel isn’t a detriment with light weight squats, rowing, or most of the bodyweight movements – burpees, pull ups, push ups.
Running shoes are going to have a bigger differential from heel to toe – a raised heel. This is great for running, especially if your running form isn’t quite perfect.
Running shoes are going to have more cushion throughout the entire sole of the shoe. This is to help with the impact of continuously striking the ground, it will help to lessen the impact on the ankle, knee, and hip joints.
Great for running, may not be so spectacular for barbell movements or moving heavy weights around. Running shoes are going to most likely be heavier as well.
Olympic Lifting Shoes
The purpose of Oly Shoes is to provide stability and help you get into a good start position on the barbell. The elevated heel helps with a better squat position, especially if you have hip or ankle mobility issues. Rock hard heel and sole = no give.
When you are lifting heavy weights you want to come down on a solid surface, you don’t want your heel to sink a bit – it causes instability. (This is also the reason people lift on the hardwood floors called Olympic Lifting Platforms – nice solid base to land on with no give to throw you off balance.)
Oly shoes are great for some strength and power days. (But not deadlifts – the raised heel puts the knees too forward of the bar and hinders that vertical shin we need to be sure the posterior chain is engaged.)
It is rare I would use Oly shoes for a workout. There are always exceptions though. A workout with a lot of barbell work (again, not deadlift), squats, or rowing. Anything with running, jumping, or burpees I wouldn’t.
Of course, Reebok now makes a hi-bred Oly shoe that is made to be able to workout in. The heel differential is smaller (meaning not so much of a heel) so it still give you some lift, but not so much that you can’t possibly jump in. Still not recommended for running though.
When choosing an Olympic Lifting shoe, you want to have a more snug fit. Again, you want everything to be solid. If the shoe it too big and your foot slides around inside, it’s defeating the purpose of the shoe.
If you want to explore Olympic Lifting more and take some of the specialty classes offered, Olympic Lifting shoes aren’t a bad investment. You won’t wear them that often and you won’t be super rough on them, so they should last you a good long time.
Certainly, the shoes that you wear on your feet are nothing compared to the blood, sweat, tears, and hard work you put in at the gym. Those are the things that matter, not what brand shoes you are wearing.